News / Middle East

    Some Egyptian Islamists on Haj Pray for Victory Against Generals

    A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Oct. 10, 2013.
    A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Oct. 10, 2013.
    Reuters
    Saudi Arabian authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual haj, but amid bitter divisions in Egypt, some Islamists refuse to keep quiet.

    “What's happening in Egypt now is a disgrace, the army is killing innocent Muslims in cold blood every day,” said Zaghloul Hassanien, the owner of an oil products company in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura.

    He was standing in a supermarket near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and focal point for the millions of Muslims flocking to the city for the annual rites, which start on Monday.

    Keenly aware of the potential for political tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval across the Middle East, the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Wednesday asked pilgrims to leave disputes at home.

    Bolstered security

    He said the kingdom had drafted 95,000 members of the security forces to maintain order.

    Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia not only hosts the pilgrimage, but increasingly is involved in the conflicts across the region

    The kingdom is embroiled in a region-wide contest with Shi'ite Iran for influence, as each side accuses the other of backing Syria's bloody civil war.

    It also has given Egypt billions of dollars to help prop up the economy and support the generals who in July ousted a government led by Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Sunni Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi leaders see the organization as a direct threat to their dynastic rule.

    As demonstrations by Brotherhood supporters in Egypt are met by a crackdown by government forces, feelings are running high among pilgrims from the most populous Arab nation but they say they do not plan to cause unrest.

    Mixed views

    One fully veiled Egyptian woman said haj was not a place for politics, but, citing the hundreds of Brotherhood members killed in protests, she added that she would pray for God's vengeance to strike army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

    “Before coming to haj we agreed not to talk about politics to avoid any problems in this country,” said Mohammed Ramadan, 63, a retired government employee from the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria. “Islamic rule will prevail. God is Greatest.”

    For other Egyptian pilgrims, Sisi represents a chance to restore the country's stability.

    “In every prayer I say God bless Sisi, God give him the strength to protect us against these people that claim to be religious and who have no connection with Islam,” Mohammed Mahmoud Ahmed, a 36-year-old pilgrim from Aswan.

    But most Egyptians making their way into the holy city said their most fervent prayers were for peace.

    “Egypt was never like this: Now within a family you have one brother that supports Morsi and another that supports the army and they kill each other over these differences,” said Mosaad Moahmed Hamed, a 28-year-old pilgrim from Mansoura.

    “I am praying to God in these holy days that Egypt will be united again. We are tired of hearing about people being killed every day,” he said.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora